Improve Your Diving with These 8 Types of Kicks

Improve Your Diving with Kicks

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Even the newest of divers can kick. It’s instinctive, actually. Although you didn’t have different types of kicks, you’ve been kicking for the first time you entered the water as a very young child.

You might have been held by a supportive grownup, a life jacket, or both. Regardless of how you were secured, you naturally began to kick. The doggie paddle kickstarted your aquatic life, and it involved the rudimentary flutter kick.

The flutter kick remains a basic kick among a scuba diver’s propulsion methods; however, it’s not as crude as the thrashing and splashing of early doggie-style flutter kicks. A diving flutter kick has more finesse and purpose.

Scuba diviners intentionally employ not just the flutter kick but several types of kicks for various reasons. So you can properly enjoy exploring the underwater world, let’s explore eight types of kicks to enhance your experience.

Different Types of Kicks: Do They Really Matter?

People scuba dive for a variety of reasons. Some seek adventure and discovery. Others journey to cultivate inner peace. Still, others use diving as a way of boosting physical fitness. Whether these are the motivating factors or something else entirely, showing off mad kicking skills rarely if ever, is on the list.

In fact, do any of the reasons for scuba diving need kicking technique when flutter kicking propels you through the water just fine? The answer? Yes. All scuba diving, done for any reason, requires proper kicks.

Perhaps a paradigm shift is in order. Divers don’t merely kick. They fin. The idea of finning is a concept that lends purpose and grace to the notion of a kick. Finning on a rudimentary level means moving through the water (so, kicking). Finning involves finesse, and finesse improves your diving experience.

How Does Finning Improve Diving?

Your swim kicks impact several vital aspects of scuba diving:

  • Efficiency
  • Adaptability
  • Safety
  • Environmental preservation


Minimizing your scuba-diver-magazine-is-expanding-take-an-inside-look-at-the-fast-growing-publication is critical. The harder you work, the more air you will use. Further, the more effort you exert, the more fatigued you will become.

Tiring yourself and needlessly consuming oxygen isn’t wise things to do in the depts of the sea. Flutter kick swimming, especially done incorrectly, can cause both to happen.

Finning correctly in multiple ways makes you more efficient in motion.


Surprises abound underwater—partly because you often explore territory new to you, and partly because it’s the nature of the underwater world. It’s imperative that you be able to react instantly when the unexpected pops up.

Flutter kick swimming isn’t adequate in situations where you must turn and maneuver. Knowing multiple kicking techniques helps you avoid obstacles as well as gently follow and observe ocean life.


Safety encompasses efficiency and adaptability. Employing various finning techniques preserves your health and life itself.

A tragic accident highlights the magnitude of the kicking issue. In 2012, four divers died in Italy’s Grotto Rosso cave. Their kicks stirred up silt from the cave floor, completely obstructing their vision. They became disoriented, swam down a dead-end tunnel, and died before they could find their way out.

A more mundane example of the necessity of proper finning is at the end of your dive. Proper ascension to the surface is needed to avoid decompression sickness and possible injury from watercraft when you emerge from below. Correct kicking helps.

Environmental preservation

Just as when hiking or otherwise exploring on land the tenet is to respect the environment and all life, so it is for the marine biome as well. A big part of scuba diving is appreciating beauty and life; therefore, leaving it undisturbed is paramount.

One of the ways to ensure that life remains undisturbed is through appropriate techniques. Kicking the right way will avoid making a mess by creating a whirlwind of sediment to swirl up from the bottom, raining silt onto delicate life forms.

When you kick efficiently, you also avoid inadvertently scraping your fins along reefs, walls, and wrecks. Such scraping may seem harmless and insignificant; however, it can cause significant damage.

7 Types of Kicks for To Enhance Your Ability, Enjoyment

Add these finning techniques to your repertoire of diving skills and increase your confidence and pleasure. They’re not difficult, but they do take practice and repetition to execute properly (yes, even the basic flutter kick).

Flutter Kick

This kick involves alternating up-and-down motion of your legs and feet. Most people know flutter kicks; the key is knowing how to do flutter kicks as well as when to do them.

This is the kick to use when you are quickly propelling forward. When you’re in open water merely swimming to your destination, you can kick freely and powerfully.

A full flutter kick involves the whole leg. You move your legs from the hips down to engage your muscles and get where you need to go.

Modified Flutter Kick

This flutter kick is also a good one for propulsion. It’s especially useful when your pace is slower and your distance shorter than when using the full flutter kick.

Bend your legs up at the knees, keeping your flippers elevated. Use the same primary kick stroke, only make the motion shorter. You’ll move less from the hip and more with your fins.

Bent-Knee Cave Diver Kick

Quite like a modified flutter kick, this one is molasses slow. It’s perfect in caves or other cramped environments and over silty floors. Its impact is insignificant, so you can get up close and personal to what you’re viewing. Use the bent-knee cave diver kick, too, to slow yourself down when needed.

Like the modified flutter kick, your knees are bent so that your feet are up and parallel to the ground. The motion is ever-so-slightly from the hip and ankles.

Frog Kick

The frog kick is so named because it looks like the motion a frog make with its back legs while swimming across a pond. People use it in cave diving and other situations where there is the risk of kicking up silt.

To execute this kick, slide your legs away from each other with your flippers flat. Next, in one motion bend your knees out slightly while turning your flippers out causing the bottoms to face each other. Finally, with the soles still facing each other, whoosh your legs together, gliding forward.

Reverse Kick

Sometimes you’ll want to move backward. It’s much more efficient (read: consumes less air and conserves energy) than moving forward and looping around. When you want to back up, use the reverse kick.

This simple kick can be a fun one. With legs straight and flippers touching, rotate your ankles outward so that your flippers point away from each other. Then, move your feet apart by spreading your legs. You’ll drift backward. Repeat as necessary.

Sculling Kick (A.K.A. Helicopter Kick)

This is a turning maneuver executed in tight spaces or when you don’t want to stir up clouds of sediment. It takes practice to master, but it’s well worth it to do so. If you become a regular scuba diver, the chances are high that you’ll be in a situation requiring a tight turn.

This kick allows you to rotate yourself like a helicopter blade, straight around. Separate your fins as you execute back-and-forth-motions. While doing this, rotate your ankles and flippers in a small circle. Smooth and effective turning motion won’t happen immediately, but with practice, you might find yourself playing helicopter for fun.

Dolphin Kick

Freedivers use the dolphin kick. Divers employ this motion to move up and down the water column.

Picture how a dolphin moves, and you’ll visualize this kick. A diver moves his legs, knees, and feet together, in a dolphin-like motion.

Scissors Kick

We’ve come full circle back to the fundamental flutter kick. The scissors kick (or split kick) is similar to the flutter kick, but whereas you kick your legs up and down in the flutter kick, you open and close them (like a pair of scissors) in this kick.

It has the power of a flutter kick, but it doesn’t take as much energy nor does it make a mess of things when you’re finning over silt.

Finning Technique is Also About the Flippers

Beginning scuba divers are often surprised to learn that a wide variety of flippers are available and that diving type and flipper type need to match. To ensure that you’ll choose the right fins, know what your diving experience will be—and what kinds of kicks you’ll use— before you shop.

Flippers are made in a variety of lengths, weights, and stiffness. Where you’re diving will dictate how long your blades should be, how lightweight they should be, and how firm or soft the should be.

US Diver is an expert, reliable source of scuba flippers and snorkeling flippers. US Divers flippers are quality diving footwear. They have what you need for all snorkeling and diving situations and conditions.

Equip your feet and train your body for proper types of kicks. Take the time for this, and your scuba experience will be less stressful and more enjoyable.

Vance R.

Jack Thompson, a scuba diving enthusiast from San Diego, has spent over a decade exploring the underwater world across the globe. Sharing his passion through captivating stories and informative articles, Jack aims to inspire others to embark on their own scuba diving adventures and uncover the ocean's hidden treasures. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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